A draft strategy document has been prepared and is ready for consultation. The public consultation will be open for comments between the 24th November 2017 and the 5th February 2018.
Slough, like many urban areas in the UK, experiences elevated levels of air pollution which have a measurable impact on the health of the local population. While there are several factors contributing to our local air quality, including heating and energy production and the cross-boundary transportation of pollution, the emissions from road transport vehicles are the most significant source.
Slough Borough Council (SBC) has designated 4 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) due to elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which breach the EU Limit Value (annual average NO2) and where there is relevant exposure of residents. The AQMA are located around the M4, Tuns Lane, Town Centre/A4 and Brands Hill. Slough has an extensive air quality monitoring network that has shown some improvement in air quality in certain areas while other areas have either remained stubbornly elevated or deteriorated slightly. Levels in Langley may require the designation of a new AQMA.
While levels of particulate matter (PM) do not exceed EU Limit Values, the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) shows that levels of fine particulates (PM2.5) in 2015 accounted for 19.1 premature deaths per 100,000 people in Slough compared with a rate of 11.7 for the South East. The health impacts of air pollution are becoming more apparent with evidence showing effects such as heart attacks, strokes, low birth weight babies and impaired lung and brain development. The World Health Organisation (WHO) categorises diesel exhaust fumes as carcinogenic.
The SBC Five Year Plan and Wellbeing Strategy commit us to improving health outcomes in the Borough and we have developed a Low Emission Strategy (LES) which will support the new Transport Strategy in targeting reductions in vehicle emissions by accelerating the uptake of cleaner vehicles and technologies, that are capable of improving air quality and health and also contribute to sustainable growth as part of the transition to a low emission economy.
The LES development has been supported by Government funding and includes practical policies and measures that are in line with best practice and Government policies. The Government has published ‘UK plans for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations’, which include a national Clean Air Zone (CAZ) Framework.
The LES comprises sections outlining the reasons why we are taking action (Evidence for Change), the measures that we can take as a Council to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality and health (Creating a Low Emission Future: Leading by Example), a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) Framework for Slough that we can deliver in partnership with key stakeholders to improve the emissions of buses and freight vehicles, while encouraging the take-up of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) through a Slough Electric Vehicle Plan. A Delivery Plan will detail how we can communicate key messages through our Public Health team, set roles, responsibilities and timescales for delivery while monitoring implementation and updating the strategy when necessary.
The LES builds on significant activity in the Borough in demonstrating leadership in Creating a Low Emission Future:
As part of the Slough Clean Air Zone (CAZ) Framework we will:
Central to the delivery of the LES will be the development and implementation of an effective Communications Plan, in partnership with Public Health, which will raise public awareness and support stakeholder engagement through key messaging about vehicle emissions and actions that can be taken to tackle the problems we face. SBC will work with key stakeholder partners to look at creating a Slough Clean Air Recognition Scheme to promote and reward activity to reduce road transport emissions in the community.
As part of developing and promoting the Strategy, Slough Borough Council will be using the £1.5m of revenue support awarded by the DfT Access Fund. In order to achieve the set goals, SBC will initiate a series of activities, documents and programs aimed at encouraging and engaging businesses and the general public to help implement the scheme.
We will be committing to the following initiatives over the next 3 years:
Other community engagement events and awareness campaigns, initiated by the Sustainable Transport Team, including a number of sustainable travel events at key locations and within schools and businesses, will be rolling out during Spring/Summer 2018, such as:
The key aim of the Communication Plan is to enable the Local Authority to adopt a robust and effective local approach, that will complement the government's National Strategy.
The communication plan will focus on both short term and immediate messaging for peaks in air pollution, as well as longer term engagement strategies to include the local community. It will also tie in with key local and national campaigns, which both directly and indirectly lead to a reduction in congestion and emissions. For example nation walk to work day, cycle to work day, Slough half marathon and national clean air day.
As part of the customer facing communication work we will also be integrating an air quality section to the new Slough Public Health ‘One You’ website. This page will serve to be the community facing source of information for everything to do with air quality. This will include keys facts and information, alerts, downloadable resources and campaign related information. It can also be used to inform vehicle users of the measures they can take to reduce their emissions by travel planning and vehicle choice.
Short term and immediate public health messages will enable the public to reduce their personal exposure by avoiding areas of higher pollution; this is beneficial for the general population and those with existing health conditions. Examples of successful implementation of health communication include air quality services such as airTEXT, airALERT and ‘Know and Respond’. All of these services provide free information about the quality of outdoor air they breathe. The consideration of measures that foster awareness of the effects of air pollution in the local population can enable local residents to make informed decisions on how to reduce their exposure and if required, to better manage their health conditions.
The communication plan within the Slough strategy will follow the six principles for public communication about air pollution based on qualitative research in 2013 for DEFRA.